Investigators find operator of powerboat involved in Fox River crash
OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office says the suspected operator of a powerboat involved in a hit-and-run crash Saturday night has been located.
Investigators haven’t publicly identified the person or said if they were taken into custody. The investigators declined an on-camera interview.
On Saturday, at about 9:58 p.m., a 45-foot powerboat collided with a two-story commercial pleasure cruise paddleboat with 43 passengers and crew. It happened on the Fox River between the Oregon St. and Wisconsin St. bridges.
The paddleboat sustained severe damage on its port side but made it safely to shore. One person was taken to a hospital. Six others were treated for injuries at the scene.
The powerboat fled the scene after the crash, according to witnesses.
One witness, Nicholas Werner of Oshkosh, shared that he heard from someone who tried to chase the powerboat down. “He said that he followed him down the river, I don’t know how he got off or what exactly happened but he said he followed him from the collision site right over here on Jackson Street all the way down to the Main Street Bridge and parked his boat by Leach Amphitheater and said, ‘Hey buddy, don’t go anywhere, the cops are on the way,’ and as soon as he heard that the guy took off again.”
Investigators say the driver of that boat was identified through surveillance video. Surveillance video also showed there were at least seven people on the powerboat.
Investigators say they’re still trying to speak with at least four of those people. That’s likely why we haven’t received additional details yet, but we should know more and whether charges will be filed against the driver in the coming days.
At this point, we don’t know whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in this crash.
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Deputies located the striking boat on Sunday, following a hit-and-run water collision in Oshkosh on Saturday.
The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office said a commercial pleasure cruise paddleboat was damaged after being hit by a suspected 45-foot powerboat in the Fox River.
Nicholas Werner, a server at Becket’s restaurant in Oshkosh, tells Action 2 News exclusively that he saw it all unfold right after the crash happened.
“At first what we saw was a police car over on the south side of the Jackson Street Bridge. And I was kind of like why is there a cop car on a closed bridge? So I go to take the garbage out and then I see a couple more ambulances and fire trucks. So I got kind of concerned,” Werner said.
At that time, Werner didn’t realize he was witnessing the emergency response to a hit-and-run boating crash that happened on the opposite side of the bridge from the restaurant.
“I looked over on the side of the bridge and there was no boat there. But they did have a police spotlight and they did have more rescue personnel getting people out of the water,” Werner explained.
Deputies say the crash happened just before 10 p.m. on Saturday, between the Oregon St. and Wisconsin St. bridges.
The 45-foot powerboat hit a two-story pleasure cruise paddleboat with 43 passengers and crew on board, then left the area.
Although damage was done, the paddleboat safely made it to shore, six people were treated at the scene, and one person was transported to the hospital for their non-life-threatening injuries.
Surveillance video and witnesses indicated seven people were on the powerboat.
After Werner’s shift, when he was delivering leftover food to the homeless, he says he ran into someone who says they were on the boat that was hit.
“The speedboat was the one that hit them, he said head-on. He was kind of confused as to how he didn’t see them,” Werner said.
Werner says the man on the boat even chased the powerboat driver, trying to stop them from running away.
“He said he had followed them from the collision side, right over here on Jackson Street, all the way down to the Main Street bridge. He had parked his boat by Leach Amphitheater, he said ‘hey buddy don’t go anywhere you know the cops are on the way,’ well as soon as he heard that, the guy took off again,” Werner explained.
Deputies are still trying to find and speak to the driver and the six other passengers on the powerboat, responsible for the crash.
The Oshkosh Fire Department and City of Oshkosh Police Department assisted at the scene.
The investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information on the crash is asked to contact the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Supervisor at 920-236-7316.
The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a boat collision on the Fox River in Oshkosh on Saturday just before 10 p.m.
The incident happened between the Oregon St. and Wisconsin St. bridges.
Action 2 News is told a pleasure cruise paddleboat carrying 43 passengers received severe damage when it was hit by by a two-story powerboat, believed to be privately owned.
The paddleboat and passengers made it safely to the shore, but one person had multiple non-life-threatening injuries. Six other people were treated at the scene.
The powerboat fled the scene. Investigators learned the boat was could have been carrying seven people. It’s not believed anyone on the fleeing boat ended up in the water.
As of early Sunday morning, the powerboat and the operator of it have not been found.
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